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Canon Pixmas & Waste Ink

Updated: 21st December 2013

Following a few exciting new developments it is looking highly likely that a solution for Canon inkjet printers may actually be viable after a signficant period of time where our opinion (stated below) has been quite the opposite.

OctoInkjet, under the Printer Potty brand, will be investigating options for Canon waste ink kits over the coming months so please watch this space for more developments in early 2014.



Original Article

This article deals solely with the waste ink & "service required" issue in relation to Canon (and HP Photosmart) inkjet printers.


With years of experience in implementing waste tank modifications on Epson printers I spent some time looking at other printer models too and the Canon pixma series in particular.

Some folks have since requested details and parts for tackling a similar modification on these printers so this article is intended to provide some guidelines, and share the experience to date.

How much waste ink is there?

The Epson printers use a cold Piezo electric process to jet the ink out and the pigment inks in particular have a tendancy to clog so the printers pull quite a large volume of ink through the head nozzles to keep them clear.

Canon printers however actually boil the ink in the nozzles which tends to leave very little clogging in comparison to the Epsons and as a result these printers draw very little waste ink as they run a cleaning cycle. Overall it seems that these printers produce about one quarter or less of the volume that Epson printers waste.

That said, the printers will eventually fill their waste ink pads so heavy users of Canon printers will hit the dreaded "Service Required" at some point.

Printer Structure

Unlike R series Epsons the Canon printers don't have a handy trapdoor for you to remove for access to the waste ink tube. Instead you're going to have to take the printer carcass apart to get at everything.

The good news though is that the Canon printers have the outer carcass or casing which is completely independent of the internal structure. Unlike Epsons you can take a Canon apart enough to get to the printers guts without affecting the calibration of the printer itself so a few tabs and screws later you have access to the waste pads and tubes from the waste pump.

Technical Issues

As noted above, the Canon printers don't require or pump out a great deal of waste ink, usually only 1 or 2ml of ink and as a result the pump is fairly weak. This means there are a few technical gotcha's to watch out for:

  • Waste ink kits cannot use too much tubing or sit the tank too far from the pump otherwise the ink will be unable to reach the tank and may clog in the tube causing a major blowback into the parking pad or worse!
  • There are no handy exit points available so any external tank needs to be drilled or cut into the casing
  • There are two waste tubes from the pumps for many Pixma printers

Is it worth it?

In many ways, once you have taken apart a Canon inkjet printer it's a lot easier to repeat the process again and this coupled with the very low frequency the printer requires this service means that in many ways it's better not to complete a modification to the waste ink system.

Of course the fact that the process of cleaning out the waste ink pads is messy and time consuming will make it attractive to some hard core printer users but there are some additional points to consider.

  1. If you print a lot of borderless documents/photos then there will be considerable overspray which is absorbed into the waste pads and bypasses any modification to the printhead waste pump completely.
  2. Infrequent use of a printer or use in a hot and/or dry environment means that any waste ink in the tubing is likely to dry and clog
  3. Any clog in the waste ink tube could easily cause a blow back situation that would push any waste ink back into the parking pads for the printhead and in turn soil the printhead and cause more damage.

Conclusions & Advice

Having modified only one printer directly and examined a few other Pixma models the jury is very much out on whether a waste ink modification is worthwhile or wise. Overall I've reached the conclusion that there are a few common scenarios where I'd offer a yes, no or maybe so here you go.

Heavy borderless photo/document printing

In this scenario the printer oversprays significant amounts of ink into the waste pads and completely bypasses any waste pump modification so in this scenario my only suggestion would be to cut a large hole in the base of the printer (under the padding) and then place a collector of some description under the printer to collect any waste into a tray or bigger pad which can easily be removed and emptied or replaced.

Heavy Daily Use

If you're using your Canon printers on a very heavy basis but not really using it for borderless printing then a modification to extend the waste tube into an external receptacle is a worthwhile approach but bearing in mind the issues above. To minimise the likelihood of a clog you will want to ensure that the waste pump is used regularly and any air contact is minimised. In this respect, use of a closed system like a waste ink bag would be ideal.

Occassional Use

If your printer is only used occassionally or sits unused for extended periods of time I would definitely not recommend any sort of modification to the printer and in most cases you should be able to reset the waste ink counter one or two times before it becomes necessary to clean or replace the pads but by no means is this guaranteed.

Kit Requirements

If you still decide to give something like this a go and you want to redirect the waste ink flow from the pump system then you will need the following parts:

  • (2) barbed elbow : 3/32" minimum inner diameter
  • (2) lengths of extension tubing (high quality laboratory grade recommended)

If you're looking at a bag system then the double tube R1800 will do the trick but you'll still need the barbed elbows to facilitate redirection of the tubing out of the front panel.

Final tip: Keep the tubing as short as possible to reduce the likelihood of a clog in the tube.